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NBA playoffs: Bobcats are better than ‘scrappy’

Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for 20 years and has been at the paper for 25, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.
SPORTS BKN-BOBCATS-HEAT 5 MI
Charles Trainor Jr. - MCT
Dwyane Wade slips past the Bobcats’ Chris Douglas-Roberts for two of his 23 points in the Heat’s 99-88 victory Sunday in Game 1.

MIAMI The Charlotte Bobcats thought they had a chance to beat the Miami Heat, and by winning eight of their final nine regular-season games they earned it. Of course they’re underdogs. But to suggest they’re happy to be in the playoffs, as if attaining the playoffs is all that mattered, is delusional. Walk into their locker room after Sunday’s loss and there was nothing but stares and silence. They were crushed.

Commentator and former coach Jeff Van Gundy called the Bobcats “scrappy.” That’s like calling somebody feisty. I admire Van Gundy’s work. But my late Boston terrier, Nike, was scrappy (and feisty). If you’re married, tell your spouse she (he) is feisty. And then duck. Along with playing hard, the Bobcats are pretty good.

• It was interesting that the Bobcats left Miami for Charlotte on Sunday night.

“We were home (Sunday) night by 9:30 so guys were in their own beds,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford says Monday via conference call. “We had a good day (Monday). I just thought it was more conducive to preparation.”

What if the Bobcats had opened the playoffs against, say, Indiana? Along with the possibility of winning the first game, they probably would have spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights in Indianapolis. There is no South Beach in Indianapolis. There’s no ocean and no palm trees. And the pools are still closed.

“Lets face it, if it was a city different than Miami we would have stayed,” says Clifford. “But we just thought it was smarter to stay home.”

If the players had voted, the result would be interesting.

• I use to love Dwyane Wade’s game. Then he stopped playing it. Wade missed 28 games this season.

Against Charlotte he was all the way back. He scored 23 points on 16 field-goal attempts. He had five assists and only one turnover. He went to the basket, popped a 3 and played 34 minutes, his most in more than a month.

After the game, LeBron James was asked if Wade looked right. “Can’t get no righter,” he said.

What do the Bobcats do to make Wade less right?

“We have to be better with our team defense against him,” Clifford says. “We’re not going to be able to guard him with one guy. You have to limit your mistakes and get him going into places you have help from teammates. (Sunday) we just got too spread out.”

• Miami didn’t practice Monday. Does that mean the Heat is taking Charlotte lightly? Nah. It means the Heat is veterans familiar with the requirements of the job.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen
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